It was stolen from me (con’t)

Denise Wright

This is the third and final installment, continued from Friday:

I began going to counseling to try to sort through everything that was going through my head. I had spent most of my childhood without a solid father figure in my life, and I didn’t date in high school, so I felt like it was difficult enough for me to distinguish what qualities I wanted in a guy – and this made it even worse. How did I know every guy wasn’t going to treat me like this?

I became rather paranoid and questioned people’s motives for everything. But more than anything, I questioned myself.

Had I really sent signals that made it seem like I wanted this to happen? Did I even know who I was anymore? I hadn’t fully decided if I’d wanted to wait until marriage to have sex, but I had wanted to wait. When I lost my virginity that way, I felt like I had lost a big chunk of my identity.

I became bitter toward my religion. Why would God have allowed this to happen to me – and at such a horrible time in my life? I was reaching a point where I was developing into the person I’d probably be for the rest of my life – is this how I was going to be defined?

On top of all the stress I was placing on myself, I got grief from the guy who had played such a big role already. Josh (name has been changed) approached me in the hall one day and asked to talk. I really shouldn’t have given him the time of day, but I couldn’t ignore even my worst enemy.

I figured he might be coming to apologize. Instead, I got to sit through a bitch-fest about how his coach had been informed of the incident and had warned him it better never happen again. Josh was concerned about losing his athletic scholarship and came to ask me to drop the report.

I couldn’t believe the nerve of this guy. He could have gotten me pregnant and ultimately forced me to drop out of school and reconfigure my life. How did he feel entitled to be mad at me for a situation he forced on me?

I walked away from the conversation more disoriented than ever. I really wanted the situation to dissolve – so the next day I called and dropped the report.

Looking back, I think I showed too much weakness by doing so, but I’m glad I had filed it in the first place. I think it did scare Josh, and I hope it was enough to keep him from doing the same to another girl.

According to the counseling services section of the University of Buffalo Web site, one in four college women are raped. That number may seem high, but in reality, there are several people who never even come forward.

I just hope all these people know there are places they can turn to on campus. If you need help finding them, shoot me an e-mail. But even more important than that, I want people to know that there are ways to prevent these situations from happening.

Granted, not every situation is avoidable, but Alice Ickes, crime prevention specialist at the Kent State Police Department, informed me that most rapes occur within the first three weeks of school and are done by acquaintances. She had the following advice to offer:

• For the first three months you know someone, don’t let yourself get stuck in a situation where you’re alone.

• Drink in moderation or drink at your own place.

• Don’t leave or stay somewhere by yourself. If you leave home with your friends, you should come home with your friends.

You can still go out and have a good time, just be smart about it. That one bad night you slip up could lead to years of trying to tell yourself you could have done more, years of questioning how well you really know yourself or the people around you.

It was something that completely changed my life. And at the same time, it was something I had to bottle up because I was too embarrassed to talk about it with anyone outside of a few select friends, not even with my mom who still doesn’t know about the incident.

So why would I share this with a circulation of 10,000 people before telling my own mother? I’m not writing this because I want everyone to get together and throw me a pity party.

I’m writing this because I feel like I should. Not every girl who gets raped is a journalist who can share her story to generate awareness. I can’t say I would have volunteered for the job, but that’s just the way things turned out.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Josh Billings who said: “Life consists not in holding good cards, but in playing those you hold well.”

I may have been dealt a crummy hand with the rape situation, but if I can make peace with it enough to write about it and try to keep it from happening to someone else, then I’ve played my cards right.

Denise Wright is a senior journalism major and guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].